Nausea is the queasy feeling that you may soon vomit. A variety of conditions can lead to nausea, most of them transient and not serious, such as motion sickness, indigestion, a viral infection or stress. In these cases, home treatment can be sufficient, and you can avoid using prescription or even over-the-counter medications. It is important, however, to be aware of signs that suggest the nausea is of a more serious origin so that you can contact a health care provider if it is warranted.
Avoid nausea in the first place, especially if you have had a problem with it recently. Divide your food intake into small meals spread throughout the day rather than eating three large meals, and eat slowly at each session, the Cleveland Clinic recommends. Try cold or room-temperature meals instead of hot ones, since the smell of heated food can provoke nausea in some people. Take a rest after you eat, propping your head approximately 12 inches higher than your feet.
Rule out serious causes. Examples, according to the Cleveland Clinic, include meningitis, encephalitis, appendicitis and brain tumors. Call a doctor immediately if you experience blood in the vomit, a severe headache, stiff neck, confusion, lethargy or rapid breathing or pulse. Also call if you have been vomiting for 24 hours or longer.
Try home remedies. Eating light, bland foods such as plain bread or crackers and avoiding fried foods and sweets can help to soothe your symptoms. Drinks containing sugar can have a calming effect on the stomach and help to prevent vomiting, so try soda or fruit juice, except grapefruit and orange juice, which are too acidic. Popsicles can be helpful, too. To make sure you maintain adequate nutrition, eat items from all of the food groups to the extent that you can tolerate them.
Care for yourself gently if vomiting has begun. Stay away from solid foods until six hours have passed with no vomiting, according to Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Gradually increase your intake of clear liquids, though not too fast, since, according to Medline, "stretching the stomach can make nausea and vomiting worse." Temporarily stop using any oral medications, since they can irritate the lining of the stomach. And, of course, delay activities that you had planned so that you can give your body an opportunity to recharge.
Even after nausea and vomiting have stopped, be on the lookout for signs of dehydration. The signs include increased thirst, dry mouth, infrequent urination, dark yellow urine, loss of normal skin elasticity and a sunken appearance to the eyes, according to Medline. Dehydration may merit a trip to the doctor's office and administration of intravenous fluids, if it is severe enough.
If you are a woman of childbearing age, keep in mind that nausea can be an early sign of pregnancy.
Be especially aware of the possibility of dehydration if nausea and vomiting are accompanied by diarrhea; the combination can quickly deplete your body of needed fluids.